Students will be able to go home for Christmas, despite coronavirus cases rising “quite rapidly” among young people.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to get university students back to their families for the festive season during a press conference today, but chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty pointed out that rates of infection in young adults were climbing steeply.
Speaking during the Downing Street event, the Prime Minister said: “I want to pay a particular tribute to students, who are experiencing a first term back at university unlike anything they could have imagined.
“I can assure everybody at universities that plans are being put in place to allow students home safely for Christmas.”
Mr Johnson was flanked at the briefing by his top medic, who used graphics to illustrate the spread of the illness among different age groups in the English regions.
Professor Whitty told reporters: “If you look at the North East and North West, Yorkshire and Humber and to a lesser extent the West Midlands, you can see a significant rise now, particularly in younger people.
“Young people can also have bad outcomes in terms of prolonged symptoms even if they do not have a fatal case.”
He later added: “In older children and young adults, those 17 up to 21, and the same is true for other young adults, the rates are now going quite rapidly.”
The figures come as students across the UK have been locked down amid a flurry of confirmed cases at universities.
Up to 200 people are thought to have flouted social distancing rules at an illegal party at a halls of residence in the Midlands.
West Midlands Police said officers were called to Arundel House in Coventry following reports of “a large gathering of students” in the block’s common room in the early hours of Tuesday.
Videos posted on social media showed young people dancing at the late-night rave.
Coventry University, whose students use the privately managed halls, said it was “deeply concerned” and condemned what it called “blatant breaches of the rule of six and other guidelines”.